Album Review: 'Midnights' By Taylor Swift Is Worth Staying Up For
Detailed as a compilation of thirteen sleepless nights scattered throughout her life, her tenth album is a bold return to Taylor's pop roots. She lights her nights with fire and they burn, satisfyingly so.
Everyone talks about sleeper hits, but tonight we talk about the hits revolving around the lack of sleep. The clock ticks and strikes for those who anxiously clamour for the 12th hour. Midnights by Taylor Swift finally arrives, so grab your pajamas, your dancing shoes, and hold on to the dreams that await to come alive.
Rumors of her tenth studio album first swirled then culminated in satisfying confirmation at the MTV Music Video Awards held last August. Decked in flair and bejeweled opulence, she holds the award for Best Longform Video in her hand and an announcement. “I thought it would be a fun moment to tell you my brand new album comes out October 21st.” Taking a line from her earlier Speak Now hit “Long Live,” the crowds went wild.
What followed was pandemonium on TikTok, when Taylor announced the tracklist through several episodes via a phone and a lottery number machine. But the real luck of the draw was finally having it this fine Friday.
Detailed as a compilation of thirteen sleepless nights scattered throughout her life, her tenth album is a bold return to her pop roots. She lights her nights with fire and they burn, satisfyingly so.
At first glance, the album feels like a stopover between her synth-pop 1989 and her dark-rooted reputation. It was an in-between we did not expect, but we welcome it openly. After her melancholic, pandemic-born sister albums folklore and evermore, her return feels like a reward.
Midnights opens with the breathy, steamy "Lavender Haze", a ditty about falling in love. Think reputation’s “Delicate” but less anxious and more anticipatory. Instead of pretending to be chill and in her head, she acknowledges the feeling and wants to be lost in the near purple smog of euphoria.
“Maroon” and “Anti-Hero” come afterwards from the dark, with the former talking about the complexities of a lost love and the latter about Swift spotlighting her insecurities. She writes in "Anti-Hero", “Midnights became my afternoons. When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people I ghosted stand there in the room.” “Vigilante S***” embraces the energy of evermore’s felony fable “no body, no crime” with gusto.
“Snow On The Beach” brings Christmas love to the tropics with strong assists from melancholia queen Lana Del Rey. I feel like this was a deeper look at that drink on the beach in reputation’s “End Game”, where Swift famously croons, “Drinking on the beach with you all over me.” This song in particular expands the feelings to “flying in a dream and stars by the pocketful.” “Karma", a rumored reputation baby in Swiftie-lore, is a cunning take on vibing with the concept itself, its strength in the chorus that does not leave the head.
Her repertoire of love stories expand to a drunken conversation (“Question…?”), the schoolyard (“You’re On Your Own, Kid"), shining on your own (“Bejeweled”), falling fast (“Labyrinth"), a relationship about to fail (“Sweet Nothing”), and the end of one (“Midnight Rain"). But the standout for me is “Mastermind”—a catchy and crafty perspective on her first meeting with boyfriend Joe Alwyn. She admits to toying with destiny that night, where she declares he “was born to be a pawn in every lover’s game.”
The great thing about growing up with Taylor Swift is you can see she soars too. She climbs to greater heights in terms of creative direction, seeking avenues that have yet to be passed. Once the starry-eyed soul sings about enchanted meetings, she opens herself up to more mature roles. From taking on a Bonnie and Clyde-esque turn to embracing the mirrorball’s shimmer, “Look What You Made Me Do”’s iconic verse cements this truth: “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead.”
Her lyrics are still as strong as ever, and she allows herself to have fun at the same time. Alongside catchy beats and resounding rhythms, she writes with a slick, seamless approach, and breaks the rules too. Alliterations are her strongest game, and “Midnight Rain”’s “slow motion love potion” shows it. She did not stop at thirteen tracks, surprising her fans with a 3AM collection of songs on the very same day. I have yet to absorb it as of this writing, but I am in love with the song “Paris”.
“Time, wondrous time,” sings Swift in folklore’s “invisible string.” Cheers to more midnights—may these be the set of dreams we never wake from.
Listen to Midnights below:
Listen to Midnights (3am Edition) below:
Stream Midnights by Taylor Swift on Spotify and Apple Music now.